The offensive of the Bush administration has a broad sweep to it. Tens of millions – nearly every section of the people – are negatively affected in one way or another.

This undeniable fact provides the common thread around which a broad people’s coalition, the likes of which we have not seen since the 1930s, can be constructed.

At the same time, the Bush administration’s policies and the spreading economic crisis don’t impact in the same way on every section of the American people.

The weight is not evenly shared. Some sections of the working class and people are hit harder than other sections. Some experience special forms of oppression and exploitation.

To ignore this unevenness and inequality is a recipe for division in the working class and people’s movements and ultimately leads to defeat.

For this reason, the struggle for broad class unity and democratic advance requires the skillful combination of the democratic demands of specific sectors of the people with the overall demands of the movement as a whole.

It is against this backdrop that we should see the fight for equality and against racism.

The war drive, the assault on democratic rights and the unfolding economic crisis bring with them a new level of national and racial oppression.

It is a continuation, albeit in new conditions, of a many-sided and unrelenting attack against African-American people, Mexican-American people and other nationally and racially oppressed people that began more than two decades ago. This increasingly intolerable situation demands initiative and action.

What is urgently needed is a broad-based and sustained struggle for full political, economic and social equality:

• An end to racial profiling and the death penalty,

• Support for affirmative action, voter rights and political representation,

• Amnesty for immigrants,

• Defense of public education, living wage jobs,

• Affordable and available health care,

• A comprehensive and fully funded urban policy,

• Adequate welfare benefits.

These and other issues have to become an integral part of a people’s fightback program against the Bush administration.

Such demands not only bring relief to the victims of racist oppression and exploitation, but are also a strategic cornerstone of all forms of unity and a winning struggle for peace, democracy and economic security for all.

In this regard, the labor movement, and white workers especially, must vigorously challenge every expression of racism and champion the democratic demands of the nationally and racially oppressed.

A victorious struggle against the Bush administration and its transnational corporate sponsors, not to mention the emancipation of the entire working class, depends on such a struggle.

There is a tendency in the broader struggles of the working class and people’s movements to lose sight of the special oppression and exploitation of nationally and racially oppressed people and the democratic demands associated with that oppression.

This is a mistake at any time, but particularly now when such grave dangers are facing our country and the world and when the ultraright has its hand on so many levers of power.

Why this is so is worth an extended discussion, but for now suffice it to say that much more has to be done to see the struggle for equality as an indispensable part of the class and people’s struggles against political reaction.

How effectively this is done will go a long way in determining the success of present and future struggles against the right-wing ruling class offensive.

Sam Webb is the national chair of the Communist Party USA. This is excerpted from his Jan. 12 National Board report. The author can be reached at swebb@cpusa.org

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